Voices from the Arab press: Kuwait passes another test

A weekly selection of opinions and analyses from the Arab media around the world.

KUWAIT’S NEWLY appointed crown prince Sheikh Meshal al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah is sworn in, at parliament in Kuwait City on October 8.  (photo credit: REUTERS/STEPHANIE MCGEHEE)
KUWAIT’S NEWLY appointed crown prince Sheikh Meshal al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah is sworn in, at parliament in Kuwait City on October 8.
Al-Rai, Kuwait, October 9
Kuwait has passed another test and has confirmed its ability to traverse rough political terrain. The appointment of Sheikh Meshal al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah as crown prince reveals that Kuwait is a state with respect toward its institutions before anything else.
After the death of the emir, sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, Kuwait chose continuity and stability. In a transition that was as smooth as it was transparent, Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah became emir. Easily and smoothly, the National Assembly approved the choice of the emir, who appointed Meshal. Easily and smoothly, there is now a new crown prince.
Kuwait is following the legacy left behind by Sabah, who, with his wisdom and farsightedness, was able to push the country forward after the 1990 Iraqi occupation. Sabah demonstrated that Kuwait cannot remain beholden to its complicated past and must focus, instead, on the future.
There is no doubt that Meshal will play an important role under the auspices of the emir in preventing any transgression that might harm the prestige of our country, the provisions of our constitution or our laws. Kuwait always was and always will be a state of law and order.
The construction boom that Kuwait has witnessed in recent years will likely continue to unfold, and the capital city will continue to develop and change for the better. New roads have been paved, parks have opened, and a new opera house and neighborhoods are being built. Kuwait is quietly moving ahead.
The most important thing in the recent developments is that the political transfer of power has been exceptionally smooth. This is the ultimate proof that Kuwait’s state institutions are the real guardians of its stability. Only one week separated the death of Sabah and the inauguration of the new emir and the appointment of the new crown prince. One week indicates that Kuwait has a ruling family that knows how to organize its affairs smoothly and ably.
The near future will reveal that a stable Kuwait will help ensure the stability of the entire region, in light of the great challenges facing each country. Once again, Kuwait has been able to show its civilized and democratic face, which is often ignored or overlooked.
There is no doubt that great challenges await us, chief of which is the economy, but here, too, there is no doubt that there is hope for the future. Kuwait is full of talent that will not hesitate to put its knowledge and experience at the disposal of a country that deserves to thrive and prosper. – Kheirallah Kheirallah
Al-Jazirah, Saudi Arabia, October 9
Prince Bandar bin Sultan summarized the Palestinian case succinctly and clearly last week when he explained that while the Palestinian issue is important, its advocates are its biggest detractors. That’s because the Palestinian leadership always bets on the losing side.
This statement is an accurate diagnosis of the Palestinian situation. The Palestinians, as Bandar recounted, never miss an opportunity to make a mistake, including most recently, when they launched vehement attacks against one of their biggest supporters, the United Arab Emirates. Palestinian seminars, conferences, Friday sermons at mosques and media coverage all lashed out at the UAE and described its people in vulgar terms. This behavior is shameful. As usual, it was full of victimhood and defeat. Unfortunately, not a single Palestinian appearing on television managed to justify the harsh rhetoric directed against the people of the Gulf.
The Palestinian leadership has blackmailed the Arab world, and Gulf states in particular, for several decades. It has been ungrateful and unthankful for all of the support, both material and nonmaterial, it has received throughout the years.
Instead of recognizing their own failure, the Palestinians pointed fingers at the Gulf. Their behavior is immoral and embarrassing. If anything, it serves as proof that the decision to normalize ties with Israel and take a step back from the Palestinian issue was a right choice. – Abdulaziz al-Jarallah
An-Nahar, Lebanon, October 9
The United States has entered the last stretch of an electoral journey, beginning its mail-in voting process ahead of the official election date of November 3, when incumbent President Donald Trump faces his biggest challenge to date.
The coronavirus epidemic ravaging the US since the beginning of this year has caused great problems for Trump. The financial-economic crisis caused by the spread of the virus struck Trump’s momentum and allowed his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, to make remarkable progress, especially since Trump’s platform was based on remarkable outcomes during the first three years of his term.
Still, his declining popularity doesn’t mean the elections will be devoid of surprises. All possibilities are on the table, and if history has taught us anything, it is that opinion polls don’t necessarily reflect the truth.
Perhaps what’s more interesting about these elections is that they are followed not only in the US but also in the Middle East. To the average person in the region, it seems as though people on our side of the world are monitoring the election outcome even more closely than the American people are themselves. Indeed, people throughout the Middle East, the Arab world, Iran, Turkey and Israel are treating the election as a local election.
The reason is pretty obvious. Despite China’s growing military power and Russia’s increased geostrategic involvement in world affairs under Vladimir Putin, the US remains the world’s strongest economic, military and political power. Even in the Middle East, despite setbacks caused by Russia’s involvement in the Syrian civil war, the US remains the most influential power.
Washington has proven time and again that when it makes a strategic choice in the region, it has the ability to turn the tables, regardless of where its opponents stand.
President George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq following the 9/11 attacks, for example, changed the face of the region for several decades. Similarly, the appeasing stance enacted by president Barack Obama toward Iran, culminating in the signing of the nuclear deal, opened the door to Tehran’s great expansion toward the Mediterranean coast and the Gulf.
Therefore, people in the Middle East are closely tracking the presidential race and waiting to see its outcome. After all, the identity of the next American president may very well determine their own fate.
Perhaps the only country in the region able to separate its own fate from the fate of the election is Israel, which exerts tremendous power over White House officials through its pro-Israel lobby in Washington. Israel has managed to overcome the policy shifts enacted by successive American administrations.
As for the rest of the countries in the region, including Turkey and Iran, they have to closely monitor the polls and assess their next moves based on their assumption of who will win. – Ali Hamade
Al-Arab, London, October 9
If the Tunisian political parties succeed in coming together and promulgating a law in the assembly of representatives whereby religious organizations are prohibited from practicing political work, Tunisia will have paved a path toward genuine reform, and the Jasmine Revolution will have achieved its goals of freedom, equality and justice. Even the economic situation will experience remarkable improvement. Through such a law, Ennahda, Tunisia’s Muslim Brotherhood-backed movement, will essentially be isolated and barred from intervening in political affairs.
But if the movement succeeds in turning into a de facto political party, which so far has not happened, Tunisia will be at great risk of falling into the hands of traitorous and conniving religious fundamentalists. Ennahda practices deception on multiple levels. It recruits its large number of supporters in the countryside, among those with limited political experience and awareness. It promotes cheap propaganda about what is forbidden and what is permissible, basing its verdicts according to its leaders’ political interests. Outwardly, it presents itself as a legitimate movement organically backed by the Tunisian people. However, what has become clear is that Ennahda is the main driver of the chaos that has plagued Tunisian political life.
Realizing that sitting in the opposition will only diminish its power and shrink its base, it now wants to reshuffle the cards and assume greater political power. Ennahda isn’t interested in power-sharing; it is prepared to disrupt political life in Tunisia to prevent a government of moderates from forming. To do so, it has garnered the support of fringe political players with the hope of portraying itself as the leader of a legitimate political bloc, concealing its desire to rule alone.
Ennahdha, allied with others, is using its political weight to disrupt the work of the government. In doing so, it has made its priorities clear: Either it will rule Tunisia, or it will wreak havoc. This is what the movement did and what it will continue to do, as long as it isn’t outlawed. Indeed, in all of the pitfalls of the Tunisian democratic experience, there is a clear and recurring fingerprint left by the Ennahda movement. – Farouk Yousef
Translated by Asaf Zilberfarb.